We’re almost two years past 1999, but some of the things imagined in this conception of the future in the 1960s for the turn of the century are only now just coming true (e.g., electronic medical records, home health monitoring). I was surprised how well they anticipated a lot of the function of information technology, though of course as it was the 1960s there are a lot of turning of knobs.
Second, they didn’t anticipate how traditional humans can be about certain things. It turns out that instant meals have always remained a niche, rather than taking over the whole sector. Additionally, just because people could engage in ‘e-learning’ by the mid-1990s with the internet, didn’t mean that schools and their social aspect didn’t remain important. And we’ve been able to do video-conferencing for a while, but most of us prefer to take calls in the old-fashioned way, when we take calls at all (with email and various messaging services cannibalizing a lot of the function of the telephone).
Finally, they were totally unrealistic about the nature of transportation for middle class families. Yes, people travel, depending on your socioeconomic status. But an impulsive jaunt to Mexico City to go play golf just doesn’t happen.
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A sharp decline in deaths from malnutrition and diseases like measles and tuberculosis has caused a shift in global mortality patterns over the past 20 years, according to a new report, with far more of the world’s population now living into old age and dying from diseases more associated with rich countries, like cancer and heart disease.
In the West declinism has set in, for legitimate reasons. But that doesn’t mean that things aren’t getting better in the rest of the world. They are. What irritates me is that some of my acquaintances who fancy themselves cosmopolitan internationalists nevertheless engage in declinism, despite their avowed concern for the well-being of humans as a whole. Yet their fixation on the decline in the relative status of their own societies, and their own status, reveals the transparent false signalling nature of their cosmopolitan internationalism.
Mind you, I think it is legitimate to worry about your own, and your society’s, position the relative order of things. But to constructively address this issue you need to not confuse your own station with that of the aggregate whole.
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